Ever wonder why so many athletes look amazing? It because they have been activating their best genetics by pushing their bodies to function at their highest levels. Yes, some people are gifted with genes that make them look stunning, however, some athletes look the way they do because the have pushed and worked hard for it. In the process expressing their genetics through fitness.
Exercise puts physical stress on the body in ways that forces the body to respond in some way. Not just on a physiological level but on a genetic level as well. The body basically goes “OK, what do we have that we can use in this situation to respond?”. If the body finds something it can use (information from genetics) it says “I got it” and activates whatever information it found.
Sometimes if that information isn’t there the body creates a new set information.
This particular method of genetic evolution (aside from environment influencing genetics) is that if you have certain information stored in your genetics somewhere, there are things you can do (positive stresses) to express that information. In that process, your body creates something it can use to it’s benefit as a way to adapt and survive to the situation just like in the normal course of evolution. Usually, making you stronger in some way.
“Positive stresses” (catalysts) can be things like exercise, climates and particular diets just to name a few.
The opposite is also true. Where if someone lives a sedentary lifestyle, doesn’t exercise and is rather obese, that lack of activity begins to inhibit genetics since there is not positive stress as a catalyst to improve genetics. If a sedentary lifestyle is carried over subsequent generations… its easy to see how that can affect genetics in the long run.
A great physical example of expression of genetics is with pigs. Domesticated pigs have very little hair, are fat, and don’t have tusks like their cousins the wild boar. But there is a phenomenon that happens when they are released into the wild. Their hair becomes thicker, they grow tusks and become very aggressive. They basically transform into a slightly different animal and all of this happens in a fairly short period of time. They’re called “feral pigs” and look like a hybrid of half pig, half boar.
The environmental catalyst for them to find food and survive in nature (where they now have predators) activates genetics they have available in order for them to survive.
This is was even documented by Charles Darwin where he noted that the “young reacquire their stripes, the adults regrow their tusks, their muscles change and their bodies change structure.” This was cited in “The Golden Bristled Boar” (in Chapter Five) by Jeffrey Greene.
There is even something fascinating that happens when humans go camping and exploring for long periods of time. We start to lose excess weight, we have quicker thinking and reaction times, we develop longer attention spans due to less distractions, we start to function on less food all because these are requirements to survive those conditions.
We have been there before as a species and versions that information is stored within our genetics archives.
So even with humans, when we take ourselves out of these artificially created environments (or even the artificial modern diet) we start to see some interesting changes on a physiological level in order to become more adept to survival.
Your genes are going to change and adapt whether you want them to or not. But you can influence those changes. You become a product of the environment you choose through ‘micro evolution’ and influence your genetics.
The other way you can influence the evolution of your genes is through your actions… or lack of action. By being active in fitness you can have a positive effect on your genetics. By doing nothing you inhibit positive change.
There are also sexual benefits to exercise that you may be missing out on.
When a person who is into fitness, eats healthy and takes care of their body then has offspring, its very likely that the offspring will have the same tendencies and characteristics. We see this all the time where we see a very fit couple and think “their probably going to have very healthy kids”. That’s because through logic… we know that somewhere on a genetic level that is true.
The term for this process is “epigenesis”. In the genetic context. The study of this process is something you may have already heard called “epigenetics”.
So what if there was something people could do to not only make themselves better but help make the entire species and future generations better?
Through fitness and exercise you can express your best genetics (for your benefit) and the benefit future generations (should you choose to have offspring). Imagine if one of your parents (or both) were Olympic athletes. How would that benefit you and the people around you?
Scientific Study Proves Maternal Fitness Influences Genetics of Offspring
A really interesting study was published in March of 2016 to determine if exercise of pregnant females affected the metabolism and behavior for physical activity of adult offspring. While the study was done on rats (as most studies start off) the findings were very exciting. Their findings showed for the first time that physical activity of the pregnant female directly affects the offspring’s metabolism and exercise tendencies in what they call “metabolic imprinting”.
That’s exciting stuff knowing its going to improve our knowledge of pregnancy and how its going to change the health of future generations. They believe that these findings can be used to help solve the global problem of obesity. It would be interesting to see the results of the human study (in just one generation) and over multiple generations.
So this seems to suggest that if the mother exercises during pregnancy she can directly affect her offspring’s fitness through genetics. Obviously under advice of a physician, given the nature of the situation, there are probably things you can and shouldn’t do.
We see this all the time in real life. A lot of women who are into fitness before pregnancy continue some form exercise throughout pregnancy. In the process they stay healthy and jump right back into fitness activities soon after pregnancy. With some women, you can barely tell that they were pregnant at all they’re so fit.
So not only does fitness affect your genetics… it directly influences the genetics of your children, their fitness and their health.
All of the actions and decisions you are making right now (that affect genetics) are going into your human genome for future generations. No pressure.